You would think by now bowlers were schooled in how not to bowl at Andre Russell at the death, or for that matter any time of the innings. Royal Challengers Bangalore however seemed to have missed out on a few of those tutorials as the Jamaican unleashed yet another match-winning knock as if he was put on earth to do only that. ((Full Scorecard))
Ridiculously pedestrian bowling by Mohammed Siraj, made worse by a beamer that automatically disqualified him from bowling for the remainder of the 18th over since it was his second offence, tilted the balance in KKR’s favour as Russell milked 23 runs from that over finished by Marcus Stoinis. All was over for RCB in the next over from Tim Southee – brought in place of Shimron Hetmyer – as Russell carted him for 29 runs in the most belligerent batting witnessed so far in the season.
By then everyone at the Chinnaswamy stadium was forced to quickly behind put a masterful 49-ball 84 by Virat Kohli that helped RCB score 205/3, a total KKR overhauled with five deliveries to spare. Till Kuldeep Yadav burnt his palm to hold on to a shot hit at him with full force by Kohli, KKR were doomed to lose at halfway.
Parthiv Patel, RCB’s most consistent batsman before Friday, again produced a breezy knock but Bangalore needed their captain and most experienced batsman to play his part. Kohli was more than up to it. While Patel and then de Villiers plundered runs, not bothered about being beaten by spin, Kohli went about his innings with minimum risk – a trait usually alien to T20s, but a trademark of Kohli.
The only time Kohli played away from his body – against Lockie Ferguson – the ball went dangerously close to point but evaded the fielder and the man at third man to go for a boundary. On either side of that shot was a flicked boundary through deep midwicket and another down mid. Kohli’s mastery was in full display. When he was not piercing the gaps, Kohli hared between the wickets. With de Villiers coming in at Patel’s dismissal, RCB were in a position to launch a coordinated assault.
Kuldeep kept de Villiers on the edge by mixing it up but Piyush Chawla’s wide loosener allowed him to club it over extra cover. Kohli was motoring along by then, taking full advantage of Sunil Narine dropping him on 35 at midwicket off Nitish Rana. The catch Lockie Ferguson dropped, off Kuldeep, was more difficult, but when the batsman in question is AB de Villiers, there can’t be any excuses.
De Villiers twice hit Andre Russell beyond many a row in the stands but Kohli’s restrained batting was equally impressive. The six he hit off Ferguson over midwicket underlined his immaculate timing but by following it up with inside out shot over extra cover for four, Kohli underlined his class.
A 108-run partnership, off just 56 deliveries, gave Bangalore the thrust required after their best start in this IPL saw them score 53 in the first powerplay. KKR still knew they were let off easily. The door however looked slammed shut on them when Yuzvendra Chahal and Pawan Negi combined to slow down KKR’s scoring by dismissing Nitish Rana and Robin Uthappa. But then came Russell to snuff out RCB’s brightest hope of registering their first victory of the season.